102 Uncertainty Principle

 Don’t mistake the ability to predict with the ability to control …


 Summary: A series of bank robberies has turned violent and Don’s investigation is crippled when Charlie withdraws into a historically unsolvable math problem, P vs NP

Original air date
: January 28, 2005 (US)

Written by: Cheryl Heuton, Nick Falacci

Directed by
: Davis Guggenheim

Opening numbers:

16: Banks robbed
2: Suspects
$2700: average take
0: Weapons used


Family Concepts: (character development)
  • Don and Charlie graduated high school on the same day
  • At the beginning of the episode, Don is driving a silver Mitsubishi 4 door sedan, license number: 4Q49902
  • Don played baseball in college
  • Don received "like a ‘C’ in Physics"
  • Don has been self-reliant from a young age
  • Charlie could not cope with his mother dying
  • Charlie has a talent for remembering numbers
  • Charlie was three years old when he multiplied four digit numbers in his head
  • By the age of four, Charlie needed special teachers and classes
  • Alan’s wife died of cancer (type unknown)
  • Alan did not understand Charlie’s obsession with math the way his wife did

Episode Synposis:
A series of sixteen bank robberies over the course of eight months has Don’s team looking for answers; and they find it in an equation designed by Charlie who has predicted when and where the thieves would strike next.  Charlie is explaining his accomplishment to Larry at the house while Don and his team are staking out the two banks Charlie identified as possible targets.  

As Charlie’s deadline comes, David identifies the two robbery suspects entering one of the banks.  As the thieves are leaving, David and Terry close in to make the arrest supported by several other agents in the area.  However, everyone is surprised when the Charm School Boys, so named as they are polite while robbing their targets, radio for backup of their own in the form of four more men, unknown until now.  The four open fire on the FBI agents, killing one and also killing and injuring several innocent by-standers.  

Charlie and Larry are at the house discussing school matters when Charlie sees what is happening at the bank on a television news cast; he immediately leaves.

Don and Terry track one of the thieves into a warehouse area where Don is injured, and the man makes his escape.  Don does however find a piece of evidence left behind, unfortunately, it is a micro-mask and only means the man Don thought he could identify was disguised and the identification is worthless.

Charlie is upset about what happened at the bank and doesn’t think he can help any more with the case.  He goes home and starts setting up chalk-boards in the garage to work on P vs NP a classic unsolved math problem.  Don arrives to get a new lead on the case only to discover Charlie falling into the same behavior pattern as when their mother was diagnosed with cancer; on that occasion, Charlie spent the last three months of his mother’s life isolated from the rest of the family.

Following up on the identification of a man David had shot at the scene, Don and Terry discover he had stolen the identity of a computer programmer, and had killed him in order to hide the fact his victim had been tortured for his computer knowledge.  They find the victim’s body walled up in the basement of his apartment building.  The do get a few insights into who their suspect might be based on how the man was killed and start looking into Special Forces and other elite military groups for leads.  They find one in the form of two men in Army Special Forces that were accused of stealing payroll shipments.

Charlie talks to Alan about the P vs NP problem and how he couldn’t stop working on it when his mother got sick.  Alan explains that while he didn’t understand, and Don certainly didn’t understand, his mother did.  Charlie puts the P vs NP aside but realizes the concept ties into Don’s bank case as the thieves are using the information from banks they rob to identify other potential targets.

Charlie shows up at Don’s office and explains his idea.  A search of the bank records shows the thieves are hitting banks in order to get information on when the Federal Reserve will be sending out a shipment of old money scheduled for destruction; the take if such a heist worked would be close to $100 million in untraceable bills.

The FBI sets up a sting with two separate units to catch their thieves, Don with one unit and Terry and David with the other.  The thieves make their hit on Terry and David with the ringleader getting away.  However, what he doesn’t know is Don’s unit finds his get away car before he can escape and he is arrested.